General Migration Recommendations

When the named partners of a firm change, it can be very difficulty to think though what data should be migrated to each partner's new firm.  We have helped hundreds of firms though these transitions and it is our hope that this article provides useful guidance for your transition.


Best Practices

Clone into a Brand New Account

Before your migration you should disconnect your legacy account account from all payment sources (turn off ClioPay, LawPay, MyPay, etc) and then snapshot all data in the account.  Once the snapshot is made, it can be cloned into a brand new account that is connected to brand new payment sources.

Clone Everything

Some firms think they can save money by only migrating a subsection of their data.  This is not true.  It is actually less work for machines to migrate all your data it is to try to carve out certain pieces of it.  When firms only migrate some of their data then they often find they wish they had their missing data.  Partially migrating your data will cost more and you will likely realize there is more you which you had.  If there is something you don't want, you can always delete it after a migration.

Clone Quicky

With the exception of documents, your migration should be completed in less than 24 hours.

Double-Check Financial Links

After the migration is complete, you should reestablish brand new links in your brand new account to brand new payment systems.


Worst Practices

Don't Start Early

Some firms think they may get a head start by starting work in their new account immediately and then migrate data from their old the account over time.  This often creates a mess of duplicate information and should be avoided.


Don't Start Before Approving Your Data

After your migration is complete, you should thoroughly review it and ensure (as much as you are able) that everything transferred correctly. 


Don't Start if There Are Problems

If your data doesn't look right or there are post-migration problems, do not start using your new system yet.  Everything should look exactly the way you expect it to before you go live.  We meet many firms who have made this mistake:

  1. Hire a low cost consultant to do their migration.
  2. Thinks look "close enough" and the firm decides to go live while the consultant fixes the problem.
  3. Months later, the problem is still not fixed, it is worse than initially expected, and the consultant is no where to be found.
  4. We get called in to help the firm unscramble eggs and it much more expensive than if we had just done the work initially.

Remember:  You cannot fix a car while you are driving it.


Don't Recycle Accounts

It may be tempting to recycle your dissolving firm's Clio/MyCase account but we highly recommend against it.  Not only is this prohibited in some jurisdictions, when you recycle an account, you there is a good chance that financial information for the two firms will get comingled.  For example, a customer may electronically pay an invoice using an old link and the funds get deposited into the original account instead of the correct one.


Don't Recyle Accounts, But if you Won't Listen...

If you are certain you want to recycle an account, we are still happy to help but you should expect certain challenges for both parties. The person keeping the legacy account will have challenges due to financial data being comingled.  The person getting the fresh account will have challenges related to getting a perfect snapshot of the data because the account was not frozen.   They will also likely experience issues with payments being made into the original account.

To properly value an existing account, we recommend using the Equitable Allocation Algorithm.


The Equitable Allocation Algorithm

Mathematicians often use the "Equitable Allocation Algorithm" to fairly divide assets among competing parties and we recommend you use it as well.  This algorithm is excellent because it focuses on the perceived/emotional value of an asset instead of a raw financial calculation.

Here is how the algorithm works:

  1. Each partner submits a bid for each non-cash item in the firm.
    Bids should be placed on all items, including:  Website, email domains, computers, servers, practice management account (ie, Clio/MyCase account), QuickBooks account, etc.

  2. A Fair Share is determined for each partner by totaling all of that partner's bids and dividing it by the total number of partners.  Notice that each partner's fair share is determined based on their own perception of each item.  

  3. Each item is assessed at its highest value and given to the partner who bid the highest for it.

  4. If the firm has any retained earnings, each partner is given an amount of cash equal to their Fair Share.  Then the partner's Fair Share is reduced by the assessed value of any objects they received.  If this amount is negative, the partner pays that amount to the "Pool".

  5. Any remaining funds are divided equally.

This is good because it helps arrive at a personalized all-inclusive value for an asset.  As an example, a single-user Clio account might be financially valued an $1,2000/yr, but the replacement value might be $8,000 when you factor in the lost time and additional costs with setting up a complete new account and migrating the data to it.  The partner who values the account the most will receive it and the other partner will still receive fair compensation.



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